No human being could fail to be deeply moved by such a tribute as this, coming from a profession I have served so long and a people I have loved so well. It fills me with an emotion I cannot express. But this [Thayer] award is not intended primarily to honor a personality, but to symbolize a great moral code — the code of conduct and chivalry of those who guard this beloved land of culture and ancient descent. That is the animation of this medallion. For all eyes and for all time, it is an expression of the ethics of the American soldier. That I should be integrated in this way with so noble an ideal, arouses a sense of pride and yet of humility which will be with me always.
Honor, Country” — those three hallowed words reverently dictate what
you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your
rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain
faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope
when hope becomes forlorn.
I possess neither that eloquence of diction, that poetry of
imagination, nor that brilliance of metaphor to tell you all that they
unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant
phrase. Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite,
every troublemaker, and, I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely
different character, will try to downgrade them even to the extent of
mockery and ridicule.
these are some of the things they do. They build your basic character.
They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation's
defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and
brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid.
teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and
gentle in success; not to substitute words for action; not to seek the
path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and
challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm, but to have compassion on
those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others;
to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high; to learn to laugh,
yet never forget how to weep; to reach into the future, yet never
neglect the past; to be serious, yet never take yourself too seriously;
to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true
greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.
give you a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor
of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life, a
temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, an appetite for
adventure over love of ease.
create in your heart the sense of wonder, the unfailing hope of what
next, and the joy and inspiration of life. They teach you in this way
to be an officer and a gentleman.
And what sort of soldiers are those you are to lead? Are they reliable? Are they brave? Are they capable of victory?
story is known to all of you. It is the story of the American man at
arms. My estimate of him was formed on the battlefield many, many years
ago, and has never changed. I regarded him then, as I regard him now,
as one of the world's noblest figures; not only as one of the finest
military characters, but also as one of the most stainless.
name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In his
youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality
can give. He needs no eulogy from me, or from any other man. He has
written his own history and written it in red on his enemy's breast.
when I think of his patience under adversity, of his courage under
fire, and of his modesty in victory, I am filled with an emotion of
admiration I cannot put into words. He belongs to history as furnishing
one of the greatest examples of successful patriotism. He belongs to
posterity as the instructor of future generations in the principles of
liberty and freedom. He belongs to the present, to us, by his virtues
and by his achievements.
twenty campaigns, on a hundred battlefields, around a thousand
campfires, I have witnessed that enduring fortitude, that patriotic
self-abnegation, and that invincible determination which have carved
his statue in the hearts of his people. From one end of the world to
the other, he has drained deep the chalice of courage.
I listened to those songs, in memory's eye I could see those
staggering columns of the First World War, bending under soggy packs on
many a weary march, from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging
ankle-deep through the mire of shell-pocked roads, to form grimly for
the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the
wind and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many, to the
judgment seat of God.
do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of
their death. They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in
their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to
them: Duty, Honor, Country. Always their blood, and sweat, and tears,
as we sought the way and the light and the truth. And twenty years
after, on the other side of the globe, again the filth of dirty
foxholes, the stench of ghostly trenches, the slime of dripping
dugouts, those broiling suns of relentless heat, those torrential rains
of devastating storms, the loneliness and utter desolation of jungle
trails, the bitterness of long separation of those they loved and
cherished, the deadly pestilence of tropical disease, the horror of
stricken areas of war.
resolute and determined defense, their swift and sure attack, their
indomitable purpose, their complete and decisive victory — always
victory, always through the bloody haze of their last reverberating
shot, the vision of gaunt, ghastly men, reverently following your
password of Duty, Honor, Country.
code which those words perpetuate embraces the highest moral law and
will stand the test of any ethics or philosophies ever promoted for the
uplift of mankind. Its requirements are for the things that are right,
and its restraints are from the things that are wrong. The soldier,
above all other men, is required to practice the greatest act of
religious training: sacrifice. In battle and in the face of danger and
death, he disposes those divine attributes which his Maker gave when he
created man in His own image. No physical courage and no brute instinct
can take the place of the divine help which alone can sustain him.
However hard the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called upon
to offer and to give his life for his country is the noblest
development of mankind.
now face a new world, a world of change. The thrust into outer space
of the satellite spheres and missiles mark a beginning of another epoch
in the long story of mankind. In the five or more billions of years
the scientists tell us it has taken to form the earth, in the three or
more billion years of development of the human race, there has never
been a more abrupt or staggering evolution. We deal now, not with
things of this world alone, but with the illimitable distances and as
yet unfathomed mysteries of the universe. We are reaching out for a new
and boundless frontier. We speak in strange terms: of harnessing the
cosmic energy; of making winds and tides work for us; of creating
unheard synthetic materials to supplement or even replace our old
standard basics; to purify sea water for our drink; of mining the ocean
floors for new fields of wealth and food; of disease preventatives to
expand life into the hundreds of years; of controlling the weather for a
more equitable distribution of heat and cold, of rain and shine; of
spaceships to the Moon; of the primary target in war, no longer limited
to the armed forces of an enemy, but instead to include his civil
populations; of ultimate conflict between a united human race and the
sinister forces of some other planetary galaxy; of such dreams and
fantasies as to make life the most exciting of all time.
through all this welter of change and development your mission remains
fixed, determined, inviolable. It is to win our wars. Everything else
in your professional career is but corollary to this vital dedication.
All other public purposes, all other public projects, all other public
needs, great or small, will find others for their accomplishment; but
you are the ones who are trained to fight. Yours is the profession of
arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no
substitute for victory, that if you lose, the Nation will be destroyed,
that the very obsession of your public service must be Duty, Honor,
will debate the controversial issues, national and international, which
divide men's minds. But serene, calm, aloof, you stand as the Nation's
war guardians, as its lifeguards from the raging tides of
international conflict, as its gladiators in the arena of battle. For a
century and a half you have defended, guarded and protected its
hallowed traditions of liberty and freedom, of right and justice. Let
civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of
government: whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing
indulged in too long, by federal paternalism grown too mighty, by power
groups grown too arrogant, by politics grown too corrupt, by crime
grown too rampant, by morals grown too low, by taxes grown too high, by
extremists grown too violent; whether our personal liberties are as
firm and complete as they should be; these great national problems are
not for your professional participation or military solution. Your
guidepost stands out like a tenfold beacon in the night: Duty, Honor,
the leaven which binds together the entire fabric of our national
system of defense. From your ranks come the great captains who hold the
Nation's destiny in their hands the moment the war tocsin sounds.
Long Gray Line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million
ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from
their white crosses, thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor,
not mean that you are warmongers. On the contrary, the soldier above
all other people prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the
deepest wounds and scars of war. But always in our ears ring the
ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: "Only the dead
have seen the end of war."
shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of old
have vanished — tone and tint. They have gone glimmering through the
dreams of things that were. Their memory is one of wondrous beauty,
watered by tears and coaxed and caressed by the smiles of yesterday. I
listen then, but with thirsty ear, for the witching melody of faint
bugles blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long roll. In my
dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the
strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield. But in the evening of my
memory always I come back to West Point. Always there echoes and
re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country.
marks my final roll call with you. But I want you to know that when I
cross the river, my last conscious thoughts will be of the Corps, and
the Corps, and the Corps.
Wednesday, July 3, 2019
Monday, July 1, 2019
On August 11, 2009 I wrote a blog entitled “Adolf Hitler, The Buck Sisters, and The Four Horsemen” (http://henrymarkholzer.blogspot.com/2009/08/adolf-hitler-buck-sisters-and-four.html), I wrote of the Nazis’ use of eugenics to rid the Third Reich of “undesirables,” and of how American eugenics proponents achieved a Supreme Court victory approving the practice in the United States. “Three generations of imbeciles are enough,” the Court majority said.
On August 20, 2009 I wrote a blog entitled “Yesterday the Imbeciles. Today the Elderly. Tomorrow the Unborn”
On February 19, 2019 I wrote the following blog, entitled “Baby-Killing Precedents.”
Back in the Seventies and Eighties when I taught constitutional law at Brooklyn Law School, I enjoyed bedeviling my students by eviscerating Griswold v. Connecticut (contraceptives) and its successor Roe v. Wade (abortion), two of the most constitutionally indefensible decisions ever to soil the pages of the U.S. Reports.
Before reading the Court’s opinion, the class’s discussion began with a textual search for "The Right of Privacy" somewhere in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, and Bill of Rights. Nope. Not anywhere there.
Next, we would scrutinize Justice Douglas’s majority Griswold opinion for any Supreme Court precedent that had found "The Right of Privacy" somewhere, anywhere, in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, or Bill of Rights. Nope. Not anywhere there, either.
As we used our magnifying glasses, we learned of the majority’s “penumbras” and “emanations,” constitutional nuggets that had somehow lain hidden for a couple of hundred years in several otherwise textually-clear amendments of the Bill of Rights.
Needless to say, none of the students could justify the majority opinion any more than Douglas and his majority brethren did.
So the “pro-choice” students—mostly young New York City females—began to talk policy and morality: Abortion was good policy and perfectly moral. In support of both, they recited the mantra of a woman’s penumbral- and emanational-based "right" to do what she wanted with her body—which was (and is) a euphemism for destroying a fetus. Then, no surprise, the discussion got hot. I deliberately began asking modestly “So abortion in, say, the first month of pregnancy is OK?” Sure. Absolutely. You better believe it. A woman’s right….don’t you know?” Etc.
By now you can guess where I went from there, day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month.
Inevitably, by pregnancy's mid-term some students were beginning to see the trap, and dropped out of the Socratic dialogue, evidently uneasy about where their professed pro-choice policy/morality stance was leading them.
"So," I asked with as much fake innocence as I could muster, "if a woman has a 'privacy' right to do whatever she wants with her body, she can destroy her baby any time she chooses, even though the infant is outside her body, the mother and child still attached by the umbilical cord?"
After a few gasps died away, to their credit some students said "no"
Others did not.
Whether the approval by some of such barbarism was an effort to be consistent, or not to agree with the professor, or for other reasons, it was clear to me that there were some who believed infanticide was, in principle, morally acceptable policy.
Sadly, I wasn't surprised then and I'm not surprised now that there are those (e.g., Virginia's governor and Governor Cuomo and the New York Legislature) who believe it is the government--not the sovereign individual--that decides whose freedom and even one's life is to be sacrificed for the benefit of others. For an example, a moments-before pregnant mother suffering not the joy of birth, but instead experiencing motherhood-remorse who can now in New York and doubtless soon elsewhere sacrifice a baby to whatever her psychological needs are (or may be, what, a day later, a month, a year?) Think slavery, conscription, polygamy, suicide, for whose lives and freedom has been, and is, sacrificed to the needs of others.
My attempts through writing and teaching to continue the work of others in exposing the anti-life premises and consequences of eugenics and abortion are dwarfed by comparison with Justice Clarence Thomas’s recent brilliantly devastating concurring opinion in KRISTINA BOX, COMMISSIONER, INDIANA DEPART- MENT OF HEALTH, ET AL. v. PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF INDIANA AND KENTUCKY, INC., ET AL (https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/18-483_3d9g.pdf ). (Scroll down a few pages.)
Sadly, today there are too few truth-tellers, let alone those in a position to be heard by the many. Justice Thomas has done a potentially game-changing service not only to the Court and the American people, but to those of us who respect life—in all its forms.